A healthy lifestyle does not marry well with a coach's job description. There's loads of stress, public pressure from every possible angle, all that travel, a lack of sleep, the grind of recruiting ... it wears on everyone who takes on the job.
The perks and potential riches of being a major college basketball coach clearly drive so many to that path, but the stress of the profession is a reason why many bypass it altogether, or give it up after a few years as a low-paid assistant. It is tough to be healthy both mentally and physically and still be succesful in the long-term.
How often do we think about coaches and their health, and do we think about it enough?
The Providence Journal had a really good story over the weekend detailing Providence coach Ed Cooley and his desire to get healthy. Cooley has struggled with weight for most of his life. Anyone who knows the game and is familiar with Cooley's appearance has no doubt seen a drastic change in his body this season. He's lost a lot of weight -- more than 100 pounds, actually. According to Cooley, his body reached its heaviest during the summer of 2012: 344 pounds.
Now he's at 225 pounds. Remarkable. A "weight reduction surgery" in July played a big part in helping him slim up.
“I want to tell this story to help other people who could be paralyzed the way I was paralyzed,” he says, “because it's the best thing I've ever done. It's the toughest thing I've ever done, but I'm as healthy as I've ever been. I'm as focused as I've ever been. I'm focused on my health.”
Following a three-month period of a diet consisting only of 400-calorie liquid days and workouts that left him drenched in sweat, the pounds have literally melted off the coach. He's eating some solid food today but still limiting himself to 1,200 calories a day. He carries protein shakes based in oatmeal, fiber, flax seed and unsweetened almond milk. And he says his treadmill workouts “are addicting.Now when I work out I want to burn fat, I want to burn calories. The workouts have been like my best friend.”
The results have been spectacular. In five months he's lost a shade over 100 pounds. He's shedding clothes by the week as his waist shrinks from a 50 to a 38.
The weight loss was so stark that fans wrote him letters, asking and hoping that he wasn't sick. The 44-year-old Cooley admitted that he felt pressure to always be the peppy guy, the happy man. But weight can bring on depression -- and he lived in denial because of it, too.
"I looked at my weight problem like I was an alcoholic," he said. "Unless you admit you have a problem, you're always going to deal with it."
So, how does Cooley look these days? You can see the photo below, but before you do that, scroll back up once more and take a look at him from the past January. Then see where he was less than 11 months later.